Saturday, June 04, 2005

Get Your Hate On Thread - Movie Edition

Critically acclaimed movies that you couldn't stand.

Mine: The Piano and the English Patient.

Open Thread

I guess it's just "cameoblogging" now.

Evening Reading

The Editors have been very good recently. Good enough that I may just have to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine at least.

I Imagine Jonah Goldberg Has an Extra Bedroom

Though I don't imagine he's going to offer to share. From Stars&Stripes:

WASHINGTON — Advocates for the homeless already are seeing veterans from the war on terror living on the street, and say the government must do more to ease their transition from military to civilian life.

Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, said about 70 homeless veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan contacted her group’s facilities in 2004, and another 125 homeless veterans from those conflicts last year petitioned the Department of Veterans Affairs for assistance.

You can donate to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans here.

A Flyboy's Story

Can anyone explain why CNN seems to run this show every week?


Farhad Manjoo is usually a lot more sensible than this.

The Way We Live Now

On my way to Europe I read Kunstler's Geography of Nowhere, which I recommend. He's mostly preaching to the choir with me, but he emphasizes a lot of issues which often get lost in the discussions of suburban vs. urban, etc.

It will always puzzle me how much of our country chooses to organize their existence, that a certain kind of suburban living has been elevated to the ideal existence. Discussions of this often end up devolving into a strawman dichotomy of "suburbia" versus "Manhattan." This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that other options for existence have been reduced and we frequently lack a common language to discuss these things in terms which people can collectively understand.

As longtime readers probably know I'm a suburbia hater. Discussions of this stuff often get pretty heated because people find what they perceive of as criticisms of how they've chosen to live their lives. But, such discussions shouldn't be taken that way - the issue isn't how people choose to live their lives, it's about what has determined the range of choices/prices that most people have access to.

I'm also not one who thinks that suburban primacy and automobile supremacy are ever going to go away (unless perhaps if Kunstler's more apocalyptic predictions come to pass). People like suburbs. They like cars. They like big box retail and large parking lots. I don't question any of this.

But, people also like other things. People like some imagined ideal of the "small town." As Kunstler points out, people spend massive amounts of money on vacations to "small towns" - Main Street, USA, Woodstock, etc... Some of these, like Disney's, are total fakes. Some are actual small towns which have been turned into tourist meccas. And, increasingly the fake "urban downtowns" (Disney Downtown, Irvine Spectrum, etc...) have been added to the fake or fakey small towns which are popular destinations. These fake urban downtowns lack one thing that would make them almost real, any actual inhabitants, and exist in the middle of acres of parking lots (large enough to require shuttle buses).

What puzzles me is the fact that there are relatively minor changes to how we construct our suburbs which would both allow some people (not everyone probably) to reduce their degree of auto dependency while simultaneously adding a bit of nearby "small townness" for the rest of the nearby residents. One can transform an absolutely tiny piece of land into something more resembling a town - build a few blocks of mixed residential/commercial development with street level shops - without fundamentally transforming the way most people live. (As an aside, the entirety of what's considered the downtown area of Providence, RI would fit within the footprint of a local suburban mall and its parking lot). Many of the early suburbs already have this (and many such earlier suburbs tend to be incredibly pricey, and not just because of their proximity to the urban core) pattern of development, but it's rarely replicated these days.

Anyway, I could bore people with this stuff for days so I'll let this post end...

Geography Of Nowhere: The Rise And Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
Geography Of Nowhere: The Rise And Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape

King Howie

There is one key rule in contemporary journalism - thou shalt not speak ill of Howie Kurtz. In fact, better to just appoint yourself his personal fluffer and then elevate him to Godhood as CQ has done. CQ Weekly doesn't even bother with the standard "both sides criticize him so he must be doing something right!" line. Consider this paragraph. See if you can wrap your brain around it:

But success is complicated. Kurtz is the target of both fair criticism from industry peers and unfair criticism from some liberal bloggers, who question whether he is tilting toward the right now that he is married to a Republican. (Kurtz says that his wife, public affairs consultant Sheri Annis, hasn’t worked in partisan politics since they married, and their careers are separate.)

See, there are fair critics, they're called "industry peers," and unfair critics, who we will call "liberal bloggers."

Then we get:

From my reporting, Kurtz appears to meet the burden of fair coverage — no one has found a pulled punch to date.

Blogoland starts us off with a few criticisms. My favorite all time Howie Kurtz moment was, of course, when he said this to poor Josh Marshall who dared to point out that the Ari Fleischer was a lying sack of shit and that there was no evidence of the "white house trashing" by Clinton staffers on the way out.

KURTZ: Well, joining us now, Joshua Marshall, Washington Editor of The American Prospect and a write for, and Chris Caldwell, senior writer for The Weekly Standard.

Josh Marshall, you don't know the extent of damage or vandalism by departing Clinton White House aides, and neither do I. So, in writing in Slate Magazine that the press wildly overplayed this story, it kind of sounds like you're acting as a knee-jerk Clinton defender.

Here are the Clinton rules of journalism in full force. We have no way of knowing if these allegations are true, but the real sin is daring to point that maybe a 24/7 media feeding frenzy led by Drudge on an allegation for which there is no actual evidence may constitute overplaying a story.

Don't Do It!

I saw this Doctor Who episode!

Japanese scientists are to explore the centre of the Earth. Using a giant drill ship launched next month, the researchers aim to be the first to punch a hole through the rocky crust that covers our planet and to reach the mantle below.
The team wants to retrieve samples from the mantle, six miles down, to learn more about what triggers undersea earthquakes, such as the one off Sumatra that caused the Boxing Day tsunami. They hope to study the deep rocks and mud for records of past climate change and to see if the deepest regions of Earth could harbour life.

The mantle samples will turn everyone into zombie neanderthals!


Reader D reminds me of this pretty stunning Crossfire moment. I actually saw this while sitting at the airport on Tuesday, though it slipped my mind before I blogged about it. Here's Republican Larry Eagleburger on Deep Throat:

EAGLEBURGER: Probably. You know, President Nixon once suspected him. I'm surprised he didn't end up dead somewhere because of that.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Wanker of the Day

Yes, it's early to award such a high honor, but I've neglected useful idiot Matt Miller thus far. So, congrats!

Friday Cat Blogging

Don't remember the name of this cat, but we came across him (her?) while touring the patios in Cordoba during their festival.

And, here's slightly blurry bonus friday tortoise blogging, from the same patio.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The New Balance

I forget who I was talking to over the past couple of days about this, but in any case it was their idea and I'd credit them if I could remember but for some reason their identity is escaping me at the moment.

But, anyway, it was a pretty good idea and it seems to fit in with CNN's new plan to do politics with a little bit less screaming. The idea is some version of an hourly nightly news show, split into 2 parts. One half would be scripted and hosted by liberals, and the other half would be done by conservatives. Neither would have to be an extremely partisan show, and nor would they in any sense be "debate" shows. Just two different versions of current important issues. The shows wouldn't necessarily cover the same issues - the choice of the issues themselves would be an important difference between the shows.

The idea is you get a kind of balance without turning everything into just dueling talking points. Ideally, the shows would be "news with persepctive" and not talk or interview shows (though interviews and roundtable discussions could be a part of them).

From a liberal perspective, of course, we'd actually get one liberal show on television, which is probably why such a thing will never happen. But it sounds like a good idea to me...

Dana's Got A Secret

It would be wrong to let this story about about Dana Rohrabacher's good terrorist freedom fighter whatever pal pass without another round of Dana's got a secret...


There are two basic themes being expressed by those who want to keep political speech off the internets. The first theme is just basic and total dumbassery - a total incomprehension of the internets, and a bizarrely out of date view of what our contemporary media has become. The second is that there are many groups who oddly see the FEC rulemaking process as an ideal time to destroy the competition - they want to restrict the concept of "media" to the kind which requires big money in order to preserve special press protections for an elite few. The latter of course goes against the entire purpose of campaign finance laws.

Our lawyer, Adam Bonin, has done a great job submitting public comments to the FEC on our behalf. It's a pretty interesting read overall, but I these bits captured my personal biggest issues with the whole thing quite well:

At their best, bloggers are true journalists, contacting sources, researching facts and raising public awareness of vital issues. Even at their "worst," bloggers perform the same function as talk radio hosts or opinion journalists in the print and televised media, energizing partisan supporters through humor, vitriol and innuendo. That which is allowed under the media exemption in other formats (TV, radio, print) should be equally permitted on the Internet. There is no legitimate reason to distinguish between Sean Hannity, Maureen Dowd, Bill O’Reilly and us in terms of who among us can freely speak in support of or opposition to federal candidates without incurring federal reporting obligations or contribution limits...


We also recognize the concern, as expressed via the comments being submitted by the
Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet and others, that to expand the media exemption to include bloggers would diminish “the privileged status the press currently enjoys.” Curiously referring to bloggers’ desire to equal treatment as “demands”, the IPDI portends that such an expansion would destroy campaign finance regulations and/or reporter shield laws.

Such claims are either legally irrelevant or factually invalid, and often both. Neither the First Amendment nor our federal campaign finance laws exist in order to entrench a regime in which only an elite class of speakers possessed rights to speak out on political affairs (and be paid for doing so). The duties of the Federal Election Commission, according to its own website, "are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections." The FEC does not exist to ensure that a particular type "privileged status" is given only to one preferred group of "serious" media members. Indeed, the FEC has long extended the media exemption beyond a selected caste of the j-school anointed to include such entities as MTV, and even the National Rifle Association was allowed to broadcast “NRAnews” in 2004 without being deemed to fall outside the restriction.

Moreover, as explained throughout this document, we can no longer pretend that
journalists and pundits currently operating under the media exemption are never themselves activists – have the IPDI leaders listened to talk radio during the past decade-plus? Did they miss every single one of Paul Begala and James Carville’s appearances as hosts on CNN’s "Crossfire" during the 2004 campaign while they were simultaneously functioning as consultants to the Kerry for President campaign? Have they not consulted the public records compiled at websites like, which detail the massive personal campaign contributions made by the owners, editors and journalists of these sacrosanct media corporations? It would be profoundly ironic for the interests of established media organizations, which so gleefully reported on the rise of the blogosphere and its role in democratizing politics, to themselves contribute to building an iron wall between themselves and bloggers. The Internet did not only open up politics to citizen participation in the way the Framers intended; it did so to the news media as well, returning to the days when individual pamphleteers like Thomas Paine could rally a nation. Nothing in the First Amendment, campaign finance law or the FEC’s interpretation thereof suggests that the Freedom of the Press be limited to those who write without expressing opinion or passion.

Finally, because of the low costs of entry and infinite bandwidth in the Internet speech "market," the FEC can abandon within this sphere any restrictions employed in other media meant to combat excessive partisanship. Requirements on other media like giving "reasonably equal coverage" to all candidates or that equal rates be extended to all advertisers have no place in a medium defined by the infinite space it provides to all speakers. Such regulations only make sense with regards to television and radio, where market entry is costly and the avenues for expression limited.

I guess it's time for....

...another open thread.

Oh, OK, maybe you could talk about tthis really offensive and lame and wrong article from Friedman.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Friends Like These

I think now would be a good time for all good lefty organizations to sever relations with Convio, if there are any. The shitstorm will follow...

deep throat

Robert George is a mensch, too.

Wanker of the Day

Bret Schundler.


I'll have more at some point as promised, but Big Media Matt gets more into the issue:

This is, I think, a more problematic prospect than most people realize. Far too large a proportion of the party's rank-and-file are anti-war for a nominee to position herself as a credible Iraq hawk. Conversely, far too large a proportion of the party's national security elites were pro-war to put together a viable anti-war team. The truth of the matter is that most pro-war liberals seem willing to privately admit that they were mistaken about the war (I was), but don't want to publicly say so lest their credibility take the hit that necessarily comes with admitting you were wrong about a very important issue. The best way out of this dilemma would be for Democrats to focus on the issue at hand -- what do we do now -- but that gets you back to the basic point that given the mistakes of the past, nothing we do now is going to produce a particularly happy outcome.

At some point the "hawks" are going to have to admit they fucked up. The only credibility they'll lose is with the kool kids klub, but they need to stop caring what they think anyway.

Open Thread



I'll have more on this when I have more time, but it's clear from beig in DC that Iraq is going to continue to be a big problem for Democrats, a problem that they for various reasons are unwilling and unable to confront. More importantly Iraq is going to continue to be a big problem for this country, and that is something the Democrats had better figure out how to confront very quickly.

They Write Letters

Thomas Paine writes a letter.


Forgot to place my over/under bet, but the new job numbers are crap.

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. employers added 78,000 workers to payrolls in May, the smallest rise since August 2003, evidence businesses may be having doubts about the economy with fuel prices near records. The unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent

The increase, which was less than half as much as expected, follows a gain of 274,000 jobs in April, the same as previously estimated, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate, down from 5.2 percent in April, was the lowest since September 2001.

Dingos Ate My Baby


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Open Thread

Hope it's all right...


The internets are so confusing.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Bloggity Blog Blog

A bunch of bloggers including me will be on CSPAN2 tonight at 8.

Because there's nothing more fun than watching bloggers talk about blogging!

Seelye Slips

In today's print New York Times, Seelye delivers a wee bombshell:

Former President Bill Clinton was cautious. He had been furious when Kenneth W. Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated Mr. Clinton, leaked information to reporters.

Oddly, it's currently missing from the online version.
(thanks to reader A)

Wanker of the Day

James Taranto.

Bush Promotes Religious Discrimination

This is fucking incredible. Bush promoted snowflake baby adoption plan only for conservative Christians.

Buy It

Rick Perlstein has a new book. Read it.

Deep Throated

Crooks and Liars has the Daily Show take on deep throat...

National Security Dems

I was at a press thingy with Borosage, Schakowsky, and Gloria Totten and the subject of nationsl security came up. Schakowsky mentioned that there are plenty of areas in which the Republicans can be criticized on this issue (of course) and therefore there are opportunities for Democrats to create an alternative vision.

True enough. But, as I asked (which she didn't hear or understand really) - how can the Democrats create an alternate national security vision when the go-to Dems on national security for the Dems media are precisely the ones who are the least likely to do any such thing?


There's light around the tunnel that's turning the corner. Or something.

Never Enough Thread


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

More Thread

Hot sexy thread.

Looks like it's time for... open thread.

Oh, and look at SKB's pictures wot I saw via TalkLeft.

Just Do It

Jan Schakowsky made the point in a speech today (paraphrasing) that if she had a dollar every time liberals whined about the conservative think tank/media infrastructure successes she'd have enough money to do all that and more - and that we should just do it. True enough. But, I'd like to add something to that -- if I had a dollar every time some left of center person said that we need to find ways to connect with people by turning progressive issues into moral issues then I could purchase the Soros empire.

Stop talking about what people need to be doing. Show us how it's done.

Makes the World Go Round

I frequently get the same vibe about these kinds of things that John does. I'm also puzzled.

Inside the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

Hopefully exciting news and gossip to follow.

until then, talk amongst yourselves.

Flying Pigs

If you can manage to ignore the all the Friedmanesque flourishes in his column, you'll find he's actually addressing an important issue here.

Morning Thread


Tuesday, May 31, 2005


thread, open it is


One of the things sitting in my massive mail pile was a lab report taken from a life insurance policy related health examination. I'm pretty sure I've so far managed to get through 33 years of life without ever having any kind of basic blood work. I've been a bit behind in checkups, but I have had them and they've always managed to not bother to check the levels of all of those exciting things, some of which I can identify and some of which I can't. I never pushed for it because of my rather annoying habit of fainting during the extraction process, but I was always a bit disappointed.

While never being much of a hypochondriac, I admit I was a bit worried about what might be found. But, judging from the little printout I have I'm fantastically healthy, at least as measured by the things they've measured and the "usual clinical range" they've conveniently provided.

88 LDL bitches!

Functioning Internets

Not having had a decent internet connection in a month, I'd forgotten what it's like when the connection is actually decent. Click a link! The page loads! Just like magic.

Still getting settled here, and I'm off to DC early tomorrow morning, but has it occurred to anyone else that John Tierney's continued obsession with his belief that women aren't competitive proof of nothing more than the fact that John Tierney hasn't been around women much...

Please New York Times, make your fee-for columnists an a la carte system...

Home for Real

Nothing like a having a month of mail to sift through...

...well, Felt confirmed as Deep Throat. Hard not to be disappointed it wasn't one of the more tantalizing possibilities (poppy, buchanan, etc...)

Evening Thread

Reload your whizzinators.

Okrent - Big Liar

Odd qualification for an ombudsman, really. Or public editor, or whatever the hell he was supposed to be doing between obsessively consuming organ meat and diddling around with baseball statistics and smearing private citizens by publishing, with name and hometown, their private emails.

Your liberal media...

The Smell of Freedom

Back in the country, assuming "JFK airport" qualifies.

Open thread.

Krugman breaks the chair, the table, the placemats, the silverware,

and the special Star Wars Collector plates (very valuable in Toledo!) over the head of Daniel Okrent.

As we thought, short, brutal, and one-sided. And, of course, very enjoyable.

I am Spartacus, I mean Atrios,

Okay, would you believe Deep Throat?

"I'm just glad there is one prominent progressive blog out there that is still a solo act."

Says the guest blogger.

The Daily Josh debuts.

First drugs, now "rendition"

From the NYT: C.I.A. Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights. It's never good news when the CIA has it's own airline.

Early Morning Open Thread

Busy day for me, what with it being "take your frozen embryos to work day" and all. Fortunately, I've got a snow globe to keep 'em company.

Late Night

Or early morning, depending on your time zone. Travel day, so light posting from me...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Open Memorial Day Thread


If you are able,
Save a place for them
Inside of you. And
save one backward glance
When you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say that you loved them,
Though you may not have always.

Take what they have left,
And what they have taught you
With their dying
And keep it your own.

And in a time
When men decide and feel safe
To call war insane,

Take one moment to embrace
Those gentle heroes
You left behind.

Written by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell, helicopter pilot;
1 January 1970, Dak To, Vietnam; KIA on March 24, 1970
Suggestion from fuming mucker.

Open thread

The other one is plenty long enough.

That Bitch

Since drudge is all excited, let's remind ourselves of the Quinn article he's referring to. It stands as probably the biggest self-indictment of the beltway kool kids ever written:

"This beautiful capital," President Clinton said in his first inaugural address, "is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way." With that, the new president sent a clear challenge to an already suspicious Washington Establishment.

And now, five years later, here was Clinton's trusted adviser Rahm Emanuel, finishing up a speech at a fund-raiser to fight spina bifida before a gathering that could only be described as Establishment Washington.

"There are a lot of people in America who look at what we do here in Washington with nothing but cynicism," said Emanuel. "Heck, there are a lot of people in Washington who look at us with nothing but cynicism." But, he went on, "there are good people here. Decent people on both sides of the political aisle and on both sides of the reporter's notebook."

Emanuel, unlike the president, had become part of the Washington Establishment. "This is one of those extraordinary moments," he said at the fund-raiser, "when we come together as a community here in Washington -- setting aside personal, political and professional differences."

Actually, it wasn't extraordinary. When Establishment Washingtonians of all persuasions gather to support their own, they are not unlike any other small community in the country.

On this evening, the roster included Cabinet members Madeleine Albright and Donna Shalala, Republicans Sen. John McCain and Rep. Bob Livingston, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, PBS's Jim Lehrer and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, all behaving like the pals that they are. On display was a side of Washington that most people in this country never see. For all their apparent public differences, the people in the room that night were coming together with genuine affection and emotion to support their friends -- the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt and his wife, CNN's Judy Woodruff, whose son Jeffrey has spina bifida.

But this particular community happens to be in the nation's capital. And the people in it are the so-called Beltway Insiders -- the high-level members of Congress, policymakers, lawyers, military brass, diplomats and journalists who have a proprietary interest in Washington and identify with it.

They call the capital city their "town."

And their town has been turned upside down.

With some exceptions, the Washington Establishment is outraged by the president's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The polls show that a majority of Americans do not share that outrage. Around the nation, people are disgusted but want to move on; in Washington, despite Clinton's gains with the budget and the Mideast peace talks, people want some formal acknowledgment that the president's behavior has been unacceptable. They want this, they say, not just for the sake of the community, but for the sake of the country and the presidency as well.

In addition to the polls and surveys, this disconnect between the Washington Establishment and the rest of the country is evident on TV and radio talk shows and in interviews and conversations with more than 100 Washingtonians for this article. The din about the scandal has subsided in the news as politicians and journalists fan out across the country before tomorrow's elections. But in Washington, interest remains high. The reasons are varied, and they intertwine.

1. THIS IS THEIR HOME. This is where they spend their lives, raise their families, participate in community activities, take pride in their surroundings. They feel Washington has been brought into disrepute by the actions of the president.

"It's much more personal here," says pollster Geoff Garin. "This is an affront to their world. It affects the dignity of the place where they live and work. . . . Clinton's behavior is unacceptable. If they did this at the local Elks Club hall in some other community it would be a big cause for concern."

"He came in here and he trashed the place," says Washington Post columnist David Broder, "and it's not his place."

"This is a company town," says retired senator Howard Baker, once Ronald Reagan's chief of staff. "We're up close and personal. The White House is the center around which our city revolves."

Bill Galston, former deputy domestic policy adviser to Clinton and now a professor at the University of Maryland, says of the scandal that "most people in Washington believe that most people in Washington are honorable and are trying to do the right thing. The basic thought is that to concede that this is normal and that everybody does it is to undermine a lifetime commitment to honorable public service."

"Everybody doesn't do it," says Jerry Rafshoon, Jimmy Carter's former communications director. "The president himself has said it was wrong."

Pollster Garin, president of Peter Hart Research Associates, says that the disconnect is not unlike the difference between the way men and women view the scandal. Just as many men are angry that Clinton's actions inspire the reaction "All men are like that," Washingtonians can't abide it that the rest of the country might think everyone here cheats and lies and abuses his subordinates the way the president has.

"This is a community in all kinds of ways," says ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts, whose parents both served in Congress. She is concerned that people outside Washington have a distorted view of those who live here. "The notion that we are some rarefied beings who breathe toxic air is ridiculous. . . . When something happens everybody gathers around. . . . It's a community of good people involved in a worthwhile pursuit. We think being a worthwhile public servant or journalist matters."

"This is our town," says Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the first Democrat to forcefully condemn the president's behavior. "We spend our lives involved in talking about, dealing with, working in government. It has reminded everybody what matters to them. You are embarrassed about what Bill Clinton's behavior says about the White House, the presidency, the government in general."

And many are offended that the principles that brought them to Washington in the first place are now seen to be unfashionable or illegitimate.

Muffie Cabot, who as Muffie Brandon served as social secretary to President and Nancy Reagan, regards the scene with despair. "This is a demoralized little village," she says. "People have come from all over the country to serve a higher calling and look what happened. They're so disillusioned. The emperor has no clothes. Watergate was pretty scary, but it wasn't quite as sordid as this."

"People felt a reverent attitude toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," says Tish Baldrige, who once worked there as Jacqueline Kennedy's social secretary and has been a frequent visitor since. "Now it's gone, now it's sleaze and dirt. We all feel terribly let down. It's very emotional. We want there to be standards. We're used to standards. When you think back to other presidents, they all had a lot of class. That's nonexistent now. It's sad for people in the White House. . . . I've never seen such bad morale in my life. They're not proud of their chief."

NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell adds a touch of neighborly concern. "We all know people who have been terribly damaged personally by this," she says. "Young White House aides who have been saddled by legal bills, longtime Clinton friends. . . . There is a small-town quality to the grief that is being felt, an overwhelming sadness at the waste of the nation's time and attention, at the opportunities lost."

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss sees this scandal not only from a historical perspective but from a resident's. "There's never been a sex scandal affecting a president while in office," he says. "In a distilled way, the sense of centeredness, stability and order depends on who is in the White House and what's going on there. When everything is turned upside down it affects our psyche more than someone who might be farming in Wyoming."

Lloyd Cutler, former White House counsel to Presidents Carter and Clinton and considered one of the few "wise men" left in Washington, gives yet another reason why people take the scandal more seriously here. "This is an excitement to us, a feeling of being in on it, and whichever part of the Washington milieu we come from, we want to play a part. That's why we're here."

2. THE LYING OFFENDS THEM. For both politicians and journalists, trust is the coin of the realm. Without trust, the system breaks down.

"We have our own set of village rules," says David Gergen, editor at large at U.S. News & World Report, who worked for both the Reagan and Clinton White House. "Sex did not violate those rules. The deep and searing violation took place when he not only lied to the country, but co-opted his friends and lied to them. That is one on which people choke.

"We all live together, we have a sense of community, there's a small-town quality here. We all understand we do certain things, we make certain compromises. But when you have gone over the line, you won't bring others into it. That is a cardinal rule of the village. You don't foul the nest."

"This is a contractual city," says Chris Matthews, who once was a top aide to the late Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill. "There are no factories here. What we make are deals. It's a city based on bonds made and kept." The president, he went on, "has broken and shattered contracts publicly and shamefully. He violates the trust at the highest level of politics. Matthews, now a Washington columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and host of CNBC's "Hardball," also says, "There has to be a functional trust by reporters of the person they're covering. Clinton lies knowing that you know he's lying. It's brutal and it subjugates the person who's being lied to. I resent deeply being constantly lied to."

Republican Alan Simpson, a longtime Washington insider now teaching at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Boston, still identifies with his colleagues in this situation. "There is only one question here," says the former senator. "Did he raise his right hand and lie about it and then lie again? Lying under oath -- that to me is all there is. Did this man, whether he is head of the hardware store or the president or applying for a game and fishing license, raise his hand and say, 'This is the truth'?"

Certainly Clinton is not the first president to lie. But the scope and circumstances of his lying enrage Establishment Washington.

"His behavior," says Lieberman, "is so over the edge. What is troubling is the deceit, the failure to own up to it. Before this is over the truth must be told."

Retiring Rep. Paul McHale was the first Democrat to call for Clinton's resignation. "When the president spoke last January I believed him," says McHale, of Pennsylvania. "I didn't think he would have the audacity, the lack of integrity to mislead the American people . . . but then he pervasively lied under oath. He was blatantly, intentionally untruthful. I would not accept as president of the United States a man who has lied under oath."

Democrats find themselves in a dicey position regarding the president, and most declined to speak about the issue at all. McHale says of his friend and colleague House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, "Dick has party loyalties and personal convictions. His personal convictions are more critical [about Clinton] than he was able to state in public."

And the wife of a Democratic senator who declined to comment spoke on condition of anonymity. "We take the issue of perjury seriously here," she said. Her husband, she said, thinks the president "lacks character and commitment. He's very clear about it."

During the last year, the nation's journalistic community has suffered through a series of credibility crises: Mike Barnicle's and Patricia Smith's disgrace and departure from the Boston Globe, two CNN producers involved in the network's discredited sarin report, and compulsive fabricator Stephen Glass of the New Republic.

Washington's insider press corps has shown little pity for any of them. The feeling toward the president is similar.

"The judgment is harsher in Washington," says The Post's Broder. "We don't like being lied to."

3. ESTABLISHMENT WASHINGTON REVERES THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY. If Washington is a tribe, then the president is the tribal chief. He cannot be seen to dishonor the tribe.

Ken Duberstein was President Bush's chief of staff. "Every time I went into the Oval office I put on a coat and tie," he says. "Ronald Reagan put on a coat and tie, even on weekends. Reagan used to say this was not his office, it was the president's office, it was the people's office. He was only the temporary occupant."

For Roger Wilkins, history professor at George Mason University, "the White House is the holiest of America's secular shrines." Wilkins sees the president's conduct as "a betrayal of the ideals we have for the metaphysical office and the physical office" of the presidency. "For this man to say that his conduct of exploitation of this girl is private in a place we revere, a place we pay for, a place we own is not only absurd, it's condescending and insulting."

Former Democratic senator Sam Nunn, long a powerful player on the Washington scene, feels it is impossible to lead without trust. "People say that moral authority is not needed . . . but the trust factor is the single most important factor of leadership whether it be for a minister, a CEO, a senator or a president."

Democrats as well as Republicans are very angry at the president, says retiring Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, who emphasizes what he sees as a lack of respect for the office of president. "I'm angry at him," he says. "I'd like to kick his butt across the White House lawn."

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin knows something about the office and "the authority, the esteem, the respect in which the presidency is held. When you take the precious resource of a president's ability to mobilize people and employ that resource into a campaign of deception . . . when you lie to the country, you are using your authority to undermine the presidency."

4. THEY UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCES. Even as the president wins budget victories and conducts Middle East diplomacy, insider Washington feels that the scandal will ultimately take its toll on programs and policies.

Presidential lawyer Bob Bennett told a revealing anecdote to an audience at the National Press Club recently. One day, he said, he had had four substantial conversations with the president about the Paula Jones case. At one point, he said, "I had to cut it short and the president said, 'Yeah, I've got to get back to Saddam Hussein.' And I said, 'My God, this is lunacy that I'm taking his time on this stuff.' "

This is only bound to get worse. In an atmosphere of impeachment hearings, says former Clinton senior adviser George Stephanopoulos, now an ABC commentator, "you can't create a debate about a lot of things, you can't put other issues before the country, you can't manage a crisis, you can't negotiate."

NBC's Mitchell, who is married to Fed Chairman Greenspan, agrees. "There's no way any president going through this process can be able to focus," she says, "whether on Kosovo or the economic crisis. It's just a tragedy for everyone."

"Americans will be hurt by his reckless behavior," says Rep. McHale. "We might have enacted into law a patients' health care rights bill, campaign finance reform, comprehensive tobacco legislation. The president was not engaged on these issues. You can't do Paula Jones, the lawyers, tobacco and Monica all at once. Compartmentalization is a nice idea but not a reality."

"It's a canard to say that this is a private matter," says Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt. "It's had a profound effect on governance."

Historian Stephen Ambrose, who wrote a biography of Richard Nixon, says that Nixon was totally distracted during the last months of the Watergate scandal. He estimates that Nixon spent 95 percent of his time on it. And he estimates that Clinton does the same, though he says that Clinton is "amazing at how he can go out in public and focus on what is at hand." But 95 percent of his time is still a good guess, he says, because "everything depends on it."

"Ambrose is right on both scores," says Howard Baker. "But the difference between Clinton and Nixon is that Nixon resigned because he couldn't stand it. Clinton is not cut from the same cloth. He can compartmentalize. I drive by the White House at night and think, 'What in the world are they doing right now? How do they function?' I would be destroyed."

For Baker, the most serious consequence of the scandal is "the diminished capability for the U.S. to lead by moral example . . . the impact on Kosovo and Iraq. I can just see Saddam Hussein licking his chops seeing that the U.S. is less willing to respond."

Washington insiders are particularly appalled by the president's recklessness, given the fact that he was already facing the Jones lawsuit. "What angers people here," says political writer Elizabeth Drew, is that "he was on notice. There are two different kinds of judgments -- one, how terrible and two, how stupid. Even if this doesn't warrant throwing him out of office, there are too many people who are bothered by it morally and there are others who want to take the opportunity to exploit his vulnerability. The result is an awful lot of wreckage and damage."

Robert Reich, who was Clinton's labor secretary in his first term, can't understand how Clinton could have taken such a risk. "In retrospect," he says, "the pattern becomes clear. It makes the recklessness less understandable. Given the danger this has posed to his presidency, you'd think he'd take extra precautions against this compulsion. It makes his apology less credible. If this is a pattern, why should anybody believe it will change?

"We have a seriously crippled president for the next two years," says Reich. "He'll have a few good moments, he'll go through the motions, there will be adoring crowds, he'll use his bully pulpit and maybe he will have something he can call a victory. But essentially it's over."

For reasons they cannot understand, Washington insiders come across to the public as judgmental puritans, shocked and horrified by the president's sexual misconduct. While most people have gossiped about the salacious details as the scandal unfolded, they say this was not what has outraged them. Of all those interviewed, not one mentioned sex or adultery as a matter of concern. "Sex," says Gergen, "is acceptable as long as it's discreet." As Wilkins puts it, with a chuckle, "God knows, most people in Washington have led robust sexual lives."

Similarly, independent counsel Ken Starr is not seen by many Washington insiders as an out-of-control prudish crusader. Starr is a Washington insider, too. He has lived and worked here for years. He had a reputation as a fair and honest judge. He has many friends in both parties. Their wives are friendly with one another and their children go to the same schools. He is seen as someone who is operating under a legal statute, with a mandate from the attorney general and a three-judge panel, although there are some lawyers here who have questioned some of Starr's most aggressive tactics.

Finally, as for Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp, they are seen as essentially irrelevant in terms of the issues of concern here.

Privately, many in Establishment Washington would like to see Bill Clinton resign and spare the country, the presidency and the city any more humiliation.

But if Clinton won't resign, what do they want instead?

Many say the impeachment inquiry should go forth in some fashion, if only to clarify and explain the offenses and to let the system work. The system is important here.

Yet a Senate vote to oust Clinton or some form of censure appears to make them nervous, mainly because they fear it would weaken the office.

"We don't want to hang him," says Gergen. "There's a sense that we all want to clear this up. And there's a maddening frustration that the political system doesn't have a set of penalties for this kind of activity."

"The founding fathers let us down," adds Beschloss.

"He shouldn't get by with it," says Baker. "The question is, what can the Senate do short of removal?"

Certainly the Washington insiders have their own interests at heart. Whenever a new president comes to town, he will be courted assiduously by those whose livelihoods depend on access to power. But over the years of the Clinton White House, that interest in being close to the administration has diminished, particularly after the Lewinsky story broke in January. Then, after Aug. 17, many people's self-interest was overtaken by their disgust and outrage.

Even those who have to deal with or publicly support the administration do so grudgingly. They say that regardless of whether his fortunes improve, Bill Clinton has essentially lost the Washington Establishment for good.

Former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos deplores the scandal's impact on the country's business. Rep. Dick Gephardt, top, is said to have held back in criticizing the president out of party loyalty, but retiring Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, above, shows no such compunction: "I'd like to kick his butt across the White House lawn," he says of Clinton. Below, former Republican senator Howard Baker: "The difference between Clinton and Nixon is that Nixon resigned because he couldn't stand" the investigation distractions.

Just in case you'd all forgotten. Did the kool kids ever object to Quinn's portrait of their world?

More Thread



I did not know that.

Travel Blogging

Not cut out to be a culture critic of any sort or a travel writer, but here are some brief recommendations based on my recent travels:

Barcelona, which I've spent substantial time in, is a great place both to go for a few weeks or more if one has the opportunity. Plenty of interesting touristy things to keep you busy, but it's also just a great place to just spend some time "hanging out." Good food and drink, lively atmosphere, and there's also a beach.

Seville is great. Go.

Granada is worth visiting, even though the hotel we stayed in had Fox News for our viewing pleasure. I thought Alhambra was somewhat overrated, but still worth visiting. The Albaicin neighborhood is great for exploring and re-exploring, but don't order the Tortilla Sacromonte until you find out what it is....

Cordoba the town isn't that exciting, but it's worth going to for the Mezquita which is one of the more fascinating things I've seen - massive mosque, originally begun in the 8th century, then continually expanded upon. In the 14th century a Christian cathedral was plunked in the middle of it, though aside from the altars around the edges the original mosque structure was left mostly intact.

Malaga is probably avoidable, unless one needs one more chance to eat fried fish. The new Picasso museum is worth seeing, though not worth an extra trip unless it's the kind of thing you are really into.



Gee, really? Do you think? Do you think “it's inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper's writers without providing any supporting evidence?” Krugman’s statement is true, but it’s much too limiting; surely it’s inappropriate for any writer to offer nasty condemnation of the kind Okrent penned without offering any examples or evidence. In fact, it’s the sort of thing a public editor should criticize, from any member of a newspaper’s staff. But Daniel Okrent is king of the pimps. So he typed his cheap shot. Then he ran.

But how big a fraud is the great Daniel Okrent? Try to believe what you see if you actually dare to click here; try to believe the pile of letters at the bottom of which Krugman’s letter appears. That’s right, rubes! Before the mighty New York Times let readers see what Krugman had written, they presented a fair-and-balanced set of twelve different letters, all of which praise Darling Okrent for the brilliant way he conducted his mission. The sheer stupidity of these writers is matched by the balls-out pandering of the paper itself. Stalin himself wouldn’t play it so bold. But this insulting pile of propaganda perfectly captures the essence of Okrent. And it tells you things about the people who run the Times—things we all need to understand.


Omigod! Entertainment for days! Anyone who has read both Krugman and Okrent will emit low, mordant chuckles—in advance—at the thought of that promised exchange. Okrent is going to debate Paul Krugman? Good God! From his hapless “liberal newspaper” column right to the end, Okrent repeatedly wrote like an idiot—like a man too lazy and too self-consumed to waste his time with the simplest research. Repeatedly, he performed like the man he seems to be—like a foppish clown prince of Manhattan society, the great inventor of rotisserie baseball. He repeated fever dreams from kooky-con swamps, failing to check them in any way. And then, in parting, he let the world know that Krugman has been gaming the evidence!

For ourselves, we whet our lips as we imagine Okrent offering “substantive assault” against Krugman. (Of course, Krugman, almost surely, does make mistakes. See below.) But let’s make sure we fully understand the nature of the Times’ presentation this Sunday. That pile of letters the paper heaped up is an open insult to its readers’ intelligence. Before they let you read Krugman’s reply, they made you wade through twelve(!) different letters telling you that Okrent’s a genius. And be sure you understand what that means—it means that the New York Times’ management hates Krugman, too. Krugman has dared to challenge power—power, to which these weaklings conform. Throughout history, millionaire quislings have always knuckled under to power. And they’ve always attacked others who don’t.

The last point is of course critical for understanding the real dynamic at play.

(...holy crap, Okrent really did invent rotisserie baseball. Thought it was a joke...)


Too sad, but too true:

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

True, but it is also the destiny of we patriots, patriots of America the Ideal, as opposed to America the Ass-Kicker, to always be called unpatriotic when we oppose the unjustified use of power; and then be labeled the cause of defeat when we turn out to be correct.

Peace be with those who die in our name, and also to those who want them not to be sacrificed in vain.


I've never spent too much time looking into the general issue of internet advertising cost/effectiveness/impact/etc... either in and of itself or relative to print and other forms of advertising. But, from what I gather a standard cost measure is CPM - cost per 1000 impressions.

A week of advertising on the liberal blog network can be had for $3700 right now. That buys you about 7 million page impressions at a cost of about 50 cents per thousand.

Pretty cheap by what I understand are the standards of these things...

Product Placement in Political Ads

Holy crap. This really brings us into new territory. Time for another conference on blogger ethics I think.

New Thread

For the early birds.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Where are all the male bloggers?

Yes, it's a sad thing, in a world populated by the likes of Alice Marshall, Julie Saltman, Barbara O'Brien, Anne Zook, Susie Madrak, MadKane, Jeralyn Merritt, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Jeanne D'Arc, Gail Davis, Elayne Riggs, Deborah White, Roxanne Cooper, Trish Wilson, Riverbend, and anyone else I forgot to mention (and of course Echidne and myself), the boys get lost in the shuffle.

Some might say this is only to be expected, given that girls show a better facility for language than boys do from the earliest days of schooling onward through adulthood.

Others might recall that old adage that girls mature earlier than boys - it has been suggested that half the male population is dead before they have reached the age at which they mature.

And then there's the old saying, "I'd rather be beautiful than smart, because men can see better than they can think."

Of course, I don't happen to subscribe to any of these theories, and I feel it's important to point out that there are good male bloggers who should be given some credit for their plucky attempts to compete with the big girls. Here are a few:

The Rude Pundit, who makes no attempt to hide his passion in response to the horrors of our warmongering police state. Willing to face up to the worst the world has to offer, one gets the feeling that this might be one of the few men who is not so over-sensitive that he must flee the room as soon as women start talking about serious things like menstruation.

The Poor Man, whose acute fashion sense led him to understand the ramificatons of the fact that Michael Moore is Fat.

Michael Bérubé, who really knows how to throw a catfight with David Horowitz.

Fred Clark, who sensitively examines the deep literary content of the Left Behind series for us.

Joe Vecchio, who's not afraid to expose his own worries about the modern, low-rent world we live in.

Gary Farber, who gets great links.

Dave Johnson, who is pretty smart for a boy.

Digby, who writes so good he has been mistaken for a girl.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Bush Doctrine

This has been bugging me for some time but I can't possibly be the only one who has noticed. Internet connection is too crappy to look into this deeply right now, but has anyone else noticed that our media allowed the "Bush Doctrine" to magically evolve from "pre-emptive war against anyone who might want to hurt us" to "spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world" without blinking?

NPR Tool

Jeff Dvorkin sure does come across as the tool that he is here:

The society of news ombudsmen has rejected an attempt by two ombudsmen from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to join their organization as full-fledged members, questioning their independence.


In April, Tomlinson took the unusual step of appointing two ombudsmen to monitor broadcasts on PBS and NPR, though NPR already had an ombudsman and PBS has been considering one. The New York Times reported earlier that Tomlinson told the president of NPR in February that he wanted one liberal ombudsmen and one conservative, a notion that injected ideology into what has traditionally been a one-person, apolitical job where credibility rests on the degree of perceived independence.

The corporation's board, which is dominated by Republicans appointed by President George W. Bush, appointed William Schulz, who has conservative leanings and was previously executive editor of Reader's Digest, and Ken Bode, a former reporter for NBC News and CNN. Bode's political orientation is less clear, but Media Matters for America, a liberal Web site (, notes that he is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative organization. He also teaches journalism at DePauw University in Indiana and was dean of the Medill School of Journalism from 1998 to 2002, at Northwestern University.


ONO's move could also heighten tensions between Tomlinson and NPR, because Jeffrey Dvorkin, the immediate past president of the ombudsman organization, is the ombudsman for NPR. Dvorkin had contacted Bode about the applications and met with him in Washington to discuss it and their attendance at the conference.

That meeting itself drew criticism from at least two other members of the ombudsmen organization, who saw Dvorkin's involvement as a conflict of interest. The corporation not only oversees financing for NPR, but the two corporation ombudsmen are in a position to review Dvorkin's work.

My war against the machines

Lambert at Corrente has a story about how Miami Dade is dumping the paperless machines. It says:
Miami-Dade County's elections chief has recommended ditching its ATM-style voting machines, just three years after buying them for $24.5 million to avoid a repeat of the hanging and dimpled chads from the 2000 election.

Elections supervisor Lester Sola said in a memo Friday that the county should switch to optical scanners that use paper ballots, based on declining voter confidence in the paperless touch-screen machines and quadrupled election day labor costs.

On the face of it, that sounds like a real victory - and, to some extent, it is, because at least there is a paper trial with the optical scanner system, if there is a recount.

And that's where the real problem lies, because a paper trail is meaningless if no one ever looks at it. The initial count of optical-scan ballots is done by machine, and if you fiddle the machine count - which you obviously can - so that no race is close enough to require a recount, no one will ever know. There is ample evidence that exactly this may have happened in 2004. Note that the graph I reproduced here shows that, while hand-counts produced discrepancies with exit poll results of well under a percentage point, optical scanners gave us around 5% - better than for other machine-dependent methods, but still not so good, and definitely enough to throw an election. Certainly it's all you need to cast a victory as being by a wide enough margin that no one asks for a recount.

See, if all those ballots from optical-scan machines were actually reviewed, we might find that there was no difference between the exit polls and the actual votes - that is, that the machines had been tweaked to give a false result.

But since no one ever demanded a hand-count of those ballots, it's unlikely that we'll ever know.

And that's why I'm unimpressed with mere "paper trails". Evidence is worthless if no one ever looks at it - and competently stealing an election just means making sure there is never a re-count. Functionally speaking, there is no difference between an election that can't be recounted and one that won't be recounted.

Which is why we need paper ballots that are publicly hand-counted on site, on the night. If we don't actually see the ballots being individually counted, we don't know that they have been counted properly.

The NYT Wingnut Boys' Latest Summaries

John Tierney:

The world is a safer place than it used to be which I'm proving by misusing statistics a lot while not stating the real reason for this increased safety: progressive and liberal ideas: access to education and economic opportunity, and human rights.

David Brooks:

There really is a class war (though Brooks doesn't believe in it)! But it's not between the moneyed classes and everybody else; it's between those latte-sipping liberals in their ivory towers and everybody else.

"Well, sure it's a war crime...but this is just rehashing old news"

So sayeth the lords of the American Media, but at least the Times cares:

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make “regime change” in Iraq legal.


E&P notes that the press doesn't seem to bother to explore just why 57% of the public feel that the war was not worth it.

It's simple. Bloviatings of the stalinist media wanting wingnutosphere aside, the press was always on the side of officialdom when it came to this war. Before the war even in the post-9/11 haze at best only slim majorities supported the war (it depended crucially on how the question was asked). Each statement from officialdom promising more turned corners and more lights at ends of tunnels, more painted schools, more electricity, fewer casualties has been trumpeted by the gang of 500 fatuous fuckwits. They've even had the nerve to pretend this war was about "promoting democracy" in a way which has shocked even me.

Of course there has been good and deservedly skeptical reporting from Iraq, but the real guardians of our discourse, the media filters and talking heads and columnists who determine what the official narrative of the Iraq war is have always been united in support, much as they were united against the Clinton administration during Monica Madness.

It's a crime they aided and abetted. It's no wonder they aren't particularly interested in exploring why, once again, they were on the wrong side of an important issue.

Luskin's Sock Puppet?

It sure will be fun to see how much Danny Boy Okrent's attempts to get Krugman are simply taken from Luskin.
Numerous bloggers and critics of the paper--including myself--can testify to what Donald Luskin called a "productive relationship" with Okrent, who seems genuinely interested in what we have to say.

Anyone else have "productive relationship" with Danny Boy?

Early Morning Thread

Enjoy while contemplating what fresh hell the Sunday bobbleheads will serve up.